Democratic presidential candidates are flocking to New York City this week to seek the support of a man who at one time was reviled for his part in a massive hoax.
Sharpton’s National Action Network convention will feature attendance by presidential candidates including former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
The national focus is a far cry from the fringe nature of Sharpton’s arrival on the national scene in the 1987 hoax of the Tawana Brawley rape case, in which Sharpton helped press the claim that white men kidnapped and raped a black teenager who a grand jury later ruled was never, in fact, kidnapped or assaulted.
Ever since Tawana Brawley hoax, Sharpton has been all about just one thing: the glorification & enrichment of Al Sharpton..that’s what all those candidates are promoting when they show up to kiss his … ring. The Democrats are Al Sharpton’s party now. https://t.co/W6pkVuo8mH
— Ed Cox (@ChairmanEdCox) April 5, 2019
Amazing that Dem candidates consort with a low life like Al Sharpton, who manufactured the Tawana Brawley racial hoax targeted at one man, stoked the Crown Heights riots against Jews, leading to a death, helped initiate an arson at Freddie’s Fashion Mart, etc etc. https://t.co/WFsYP40Zp4
— the real chris beck (@SubBeck) April 4, 2019
Sharpton, Brawley’s spokesman, emerged as a “race-baiting hustler,” according to an editorial in Investors Business Daily.
“Sharpton has made a career of racial incitement. He once called Jews ‘diamond merchants’ and described whites moving businesses into Harlem as ‘interlopers,'” it wrote.
However, the arrival of the Clintons into the White House began the slow evolution of Sharpton from the margins to the mainstream. Sharpton insists that society changed, not him.
“A lot of the issues that we have been at the forefront of — in terms of criminal justice reform, in terms of voting rights, in terms of racial disparities, in terms of the economy — have become mainstream issues,” he said to The Hill.
“Every cycle we’ve done them since, more and more (of) our issues have become mainstream,” Sharpton said. “You cannot now run without dealing with these issues.”
Sharpton said he wants to hear substance from those seeking the White House.
“I don’t want to hear sound bites. Like, yes, we need to alter the criminal justice system. How? What would you do about the mandatory sentencing laws? What would you do about police reform? Would you reinstitute consent decrees?” he said.
Societal change is also important, he said.
“I want to hear in terms of the economy, how do you close the race gap in employment? Yes, black unemployment is lower than it’s ever been, but it’s still double that of whites. How do you close the race gap in terms of health care? I want to hear specifics. Where’s the meat? Not just giving us the dessert,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton’s convention was the venue at which O’Rourke flopped his position on reparations for black Americans who were descended from former slaves, from opposing them to supporting them, Fox News reported.
That issue is one where Sharpton has staked out a cautious position.
“I support Sheila Jackson Lee’s legislation that there needs to be a commission to study it,” he said, referring to the Texas Democratic congresswoman. “Clearly, we have got to define what we are talking about when we talk about reparations. Clearly, something should be done, in my judgment. But done how and what vehicle?”
Sharpton said he is in no hurry to endorse a 2020 candidate,
“I may. National Action Network will not, but I may — late in the campaign,” he said. “I endorsed Obama in late ’07. I did not make an endorsement in ’16. But I think that it’s important that we deal with this whole presidency of Trump, so I may do something late this year. But again, I want to hear something.”
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